solipsism – n. – the theory that the self can be aware of nothing but its own experiences.
You already know they exist — out there somewhere — waiting to bash your company. Just look at websites such as “I Hate Boingo” and “PayPal Sucks.” Don’t even get me started on all the variations of “Microsoft Sucks.”
Richard Telofski addresses this troubling problem in his new book, Insidious Competition: The Battle for Meaning and the Corporate Image, which outlines the battle for meaning with regard to your corporate image and explains how you can fight back in today’s online world.
How does one control a crowd? If left unchecked, a crowd can easily turn into a lynch mob, with your business as the target? Insidious Competition is dedicated to making companies aware that this competition for their corporate images is real with harmful effects and that, unlike other traditional competitors, is just not being taken seriously.
What makes non-traditional and insidious completion “competition” is that people are competing for the image of the corporation and are doing so online, within the social web. Please note that here Insidious Competition does not include legitimate complaints about a company. Insidious Competition is not the considered criticism of a product or a service, which may enable the marketers of that product or service to improve their offering, that should worry management. It’s not the balanced argument which contributes to reasonable discourse that threatens the corporate image. No, it’s the antithesis of these, coming from within social media, that threatens the corporate image.
What are the Five Factors of Insidious Competition?
|1. Anonymity||Social media doesn’t require that participants are correctly identified.|
|2. Power||The anonymity can lead to a corruption of ethical behavior, making users feel powerful.|
|3. Contagion||Power corrupts. Social media users are susceptible to this infection. And it spreads like a virus.|
|4. Instinct||Powerful-feeling individuals perform behaviors which they instinctively believe will be in support of the crowd’s collective interests.|
|5. Disdain||Deep-rooted dislike of institutions is amplified and perpetuated by the other four factors.|
It’s the innuendo, insinuation, spin, implication, hint, overtone, undertone, aspersion, or allusion to the inferiority or wrongdoing of a company and/or its products or services falsely created within social media that supports the threat of insidious competition. Insidious because these innuendos, insinuations, spins, implications, hints, overtones, undertones, aspersions, or allusions proceed in a gradual and subtle manner to harm the corporate image, repeatedly, gradually, and incrementally, over time. The danger and its effects are not noticed until it is too late. What this process constitutes is a distortion of reality, or a battle for meaning.
Telofski notes that if we are to understand and attempt, at least, to manage insidious competition and to win that battle for meaning, then we must have the foundation for understanding that competition. Insidious Competition then helps explain how to counter such attacks with suggested strategies and tactics tailored to the threat.
One such threat is the Mommy Blogger – “they’re nice, they’re everywhere and they converse with other mommies far and wide, 24/7/365 on a broad range of topics? So, how can that be a bad thing?” Telofski details how Mommy Bloggers write with emotion and passion that connects with readers. These emotions bring veracity wrapped around basic concepts of society. How can we argue against mommies? Unfortunately, their readers often select out the parts they see as most important to pass along and the conversation gets taken out of context. Soon you experience a drift in message that gets passed along in a mutated mess of your corporate image.
Don’t wait until “YourCompanySucks.com” starts lambasting you.
About the Author
Richard Telofski is a competitive strategy analyst. Specializing in anti-corporate activism, he examines the actions of “irregular competitors” (i.e., activists and NGOs) and how those organizations impact business from within online and offline media.
Insidious Competition: The Battle for Meaning and the Corporate Image is available through Amazon.